One day one of our Connecticut social workers asked if any of us knew someone who ran a farm. She was working with a youth who was interested in animals, and wanted to see what farming was all about. We got a referral. Being around farm animals was an important step in this youth’s journey — a unique chance to explore something that mattered to her, and to begin to learn how to dream about creating her own future.
When I was 7 years old my father took me to see a Neil Simonesque Broadway comedy called “Luv.” It was 1964. My father’s novel, coincidentally also called “Love,” had just been published and he was pursuing a playwriting career with a group called the New Dramatists. I have vague memories of the show even today.
What happened soon after is striking me hard this Father’s Day, as my father is now 89 years old with Alzheimer’s Disease. While he can’t recall my name, a few memories of him from my early life seem more vivid today than ever.
Watching the actors tell a story on a stage triggered my 7-year-old imagination. When we got home – maybe the next day, maybe the day after, who knows? – I sat down and wrote my own play, scrawled on a yellow legal pad. I think I called it “Three on a Bridge,” and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that much of the action in “Luv” takes place on a bridge. I showed it to my father and he immediately sat down at his roll top desk and typed it up. Nothing could have made me feel more validated or taken seriously. He typed it!
That etched moment probably has more to do with who I became as a father than anything else. Without making the connection, I always felt determined to honor our son’s passions and tried to take them seriously. I tried in my own way to type them up. As a child our son was into recording and writing songs. For his seventh birthday (I think it was his seventh) my wife and I took him to a recording studio where he could make a CD of his songs. We typed them up.
Here at Love146 we get reports about what the children in our care are doing, and we hear about their dreams. Within these reports is the recognition that the children are individuals, with their own passions, desires, and hopes for the future. A core philosophy of Love146’s caregiving is to validate, to take seriously, to respect the essence of who the individual children are, and what they can become.
We take them to farms, to restaurants, to wilderness school. We try to help them explore their possibilities. We may not use a typewriter, but in our own way, we type them up.